shake it off

Jayla Rose Sullivan is truly the “Big Grrrl” dancer to watch

A trans woman taking ownership of her body can feel like such an insurmountable challenge, especially in a space as bodily-focused as dance. Performer and Lizzo-collaborator Jayla Rose Sullivan is tearing that challenge up with aplomb.

Before she hit her big media break, you could find Sullivan lip-syncing and hitting stunts for years at places like Hamburger Mary’s, Sinferno Cabaret, and drag brunches all over Portland. Some might expect a big girl like Sullivan to do a walk and point number to some big brassy standard; instead, she serves you everything she has and more.

@jaylarosepdx Rolling into the weekend be like…. #dragqueen #dragqueensoftiktok #transgirlpride #transdancer #bendoregon #winterpride #campfirehotel #dragbrunch #dragqueenbrunch #backhandspring #plussizedancer ##LizzosBigGrrrls #plussizedancers #fullfiguredbeauties #Lizzobangerz #primevideo #messybestiepv #biggrrrls #watchoutforthebiggrrrls #woftb ♬ original sound – Jayla Rose Sullivan

Sullivan’s gymnast background and training in tap, jazz, ballet, and modern dance all undoubtedly lent themselves to her shows. Years of performing and further honing those skills led her to a spot on the reality competition show Watch Out For the Big Grrrls in which pop superstar Lizzo auditioned dancers to join her on tour.

This wasn’t your typical competition reality show; there wasn’t one single winner or weekly eliminations, nor were there many petty reality TV squabbles. Instead, Sullivan found herself on a program where everyone could succeed and she could be celebrated almost as much as she was in the bars back home.

The show did have to make some cuts — being a backup dancer for someone as energetic and renowned as Lizzo is no easy task — but Sullivan surely was not one of them. Even after a fall and injury, nothing was going to stand between her and the larger stage she knew she was destined for.

Today you can find Sullivan showing out at her shows (as always), notably as a regular at the Diva Drag Brunch in Portland. With Lizzo’s new singles “About D*mn Time” and the relevantly titled “Grrrls” out now, we’re sure we’ll see this beauty flipping and dipping on tour again soon.


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